Wellness by Luke Coutinho: Foods that prevent hair loss

Jennifer E. Engen

Remember this: while food plays a role, it never works alone. So, the first question you should ask yourself is—what is the root cause behind my excessive hair fall? Is it poor nutrition or high-stress levels? Is it lack of sleep or a sedentary lifestyle? Or is it due to a hormonal imbalance, poor gut health, or low haemoglobin levels? You can download a laundry list of top foods to reduce hair fall, but you will continue to face the problem if you haven’t addressed the root cause.

Hair health is an inside-out approach. No matter how many hair creams and growth serums we slather on our scalp, our body’s internal environment matters.

With that said, nutrition is one of the major controllable factors of hair fall. Losing a couple of strands is normal, but if your hair starts to fall or shed in bunches; it mostly means an underlying nutrient deficiency. Several nutrients come into play for great hair health, ranging from protein to vitamins like B7 (biotin), A, D3, C, E, and minerals such as zinc, iron, folic acid, selenium, and boron. The deficiency of even one vitamin or a trace mineral can affect hair health. This is precisely why people who get onto fad diets experience extreme hair fall issues.

Here are some scientifically documented and well-researched foods for hair fall:

• Curry leaves: This common spice is rich in beta-carotene, proteins, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and phosphorus. Curry leaves can help prevent hair fall and premature greying. They can be added to tempering dishes, chutneys, or buttermilk. A few leaves can also be added to your daily vegetable juice or chewed as is.

• Onions: Onion contains catalase, an enzyme that prevents hair fall and premature greying. Onion is also rich in sulphur, which is the main ingredient of melanin, a pigment that determines your hair colour. Drink onion juice or directly apply it to the scalp.

• Protein-rich foods: Our hair is made up of a protein called keratin. Therefore, ensure that you include good quality and quantity of proteins in your diet. The combination of rice and lentils is a perfect source of protein, for example, khichdi or beans and rice. Other sources of protein-rich foods are nuts, seeds, organic and hormone-free eggs, chicken, and fish. These foods are also rich in biotin (vitamin B7), another essential nutrient for hair health. Hummus is rich in protein and vitamin A, D, B7, E, C, zinc, and iron, which makes it great for your overall hair health.

• Iron-rich foods: Low haemoglobin level is one of the primary reasons behind hair fall. Thus, one should include iron-rich foods like dates, nuts, and seeds, garden cress seeds, moringa, spinach, lentils, and lemons in your nutrition plan. Iron-rich foods are best consumed in combination with vitamin C; you could sprinkle lemon juice over green leafy vegetable dishes. Another point to be noted is that caffeine and tannins inhibit iron absorption. So, it is best to maintain a gap between meals and tea or coffee.

Having said this, there is no magic food or supplement that can stop hair fall. Your approach towards addressing hair fall must cover all aspects of lifestyle, including intelligent nutrition that impacts at a cellular level, adequate movement to enable circulation of nutrients towards your scalp, quality sleep to support hair growth, a balanced emotional state of mind, and keeping a check on chemicals we apply on our hair. 

Luke Coutinho practices in the space of Holistic Nutrition—Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine and is the founder of YouCare-All about You by Luke Coutinho

From HT Brunch, April 30, 2022

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